The discussion on projects and my hubby's insistence that we do something this year with the leftover birds from my Orpington breeding in the past made me go out and take a hard look at them today, and even take some pictures. So I'm looking for input on both what I have done to date, and which of my options to continue. I'll start with the background on these 4 birds. In 2003 the boarder between Canada and the US was open to shipping of birds or hatching eggs that came from certified flocks. I was interested in black and blue Orpingtons as I loved my Buffs, and decided to get some. Went with hatching eggs, found 2 sources on the old BYC forum and got 2 shipments each from them, had low to 40% hatch rate due to the distances and times involved but got enough birds to get going. The hatching was late summer early fall. Lets call those A and B bloodlines. In February 2004 the AI outbreak locked down everything, and it looked for some time like my whole flock would be culled regardless of their health. While I did cross the 2 bloodlines (AB birds) I had I did not create many chicks due to the unknown outcome. In the summer of 2004 I moved due to a job transfer and due to the continued lockdown of the area I gave my birds to a friend who had lost her entire flock to the AI cull as she lived too close to the source farm, her birds had no disease but the cull rules were everything in 10 km.. She is a long time breeder of Australorpes, shows and knows the history of the 2 breeds well. She had gotten some of her bloodlines back from people she sold to and was trying to start again. This Orpington project at the time was a good thing for her, gave her something to do while she built back up. With her long experience with Australorpes she quickly noticed something I had also seen, that there was very poor egg laying traits in these bloodlines I had obtained, and high mortality in young roos. In fact we ended up having to import a new roo as soon as the boarder reopened only to have him die as well, probably shipping stress in that case. The others appeared to be flip, getting too big. In 2005 she proposed the use of one of her Australorp males to cross to the blue hens so that we could continue the blue Orpington project, the breeds are very related as you can see here or on this site . So that was done and she created a number of birds of what I will now call the F1 generation. In the summer of 2005 she had enough of her birds back and with her gone going to collage she wished to just continue with one breed so with the lockdown finally lifted I brought to my new home all the birds in the project. So here I had 2 original separate bloodlines and the F1 half Australorp birds. Sadly as we were building at the time, camping on the property while the house was being built, had no separation pens, and working full time I did not do anything with them that year. However I did notice the vigor of the F1 generation and the great laying ability. 2006 - 2008 have passed and I have no idea what my excuse is for still not doing anything with this. For a while my heart was not into heritage breeding as I needed farm status for the property and commercial fowl seemed the way to go. Also I noticed some of the Orpington birds were very susceptible to mites, always got them really bad and in hard to get rid of, in fact I culled 3 that never got over it one year. In all that time they ran free with all the rest, some raised chicks naturally, all of which have been put in the freezer due to their unknown linage, or obvious cross breeding. I do now have the ability to separate them and I have 4 proven long lived birds, healthy naturally so disease resistant and seem to do well naturally controlling mites. These birds I'm happy with, so time to move on. Here they are. Sorry pictures in bright sun on snow don't make for the best shots. This roo is a F1 generation off of bloodline B I had one also F1 but from bloodline A however he died this winter in a heavy molt. They are now 3 years old, will be 4 soon. This hen is a A or B bloodline, or a AB cross, sadly she has lost her leg band. As I know the number of birds that I got that are F1 and can track them all I know she is not that. White leg band, for sure a F1 off an AB cross. Pink leg band, bloodline A, poor lacing. Too bad really as that bloodline had great colour in the group, but anyway she is the one that is still around. Coyotes really reduced the population for me (in all breeds) last 2 years. And here are my options as I see them. Continue with just the birds I have and see where I can get. I'm not really sure I want to make a big deal of this in 2009 anyway and I know I'm happy with these birds as far as laying and longevity. Breeding the roo back to the original Orpingtons will ensure type. Get some hatchery chicks or eggs/chicks from a breeder to mix in and not know their traits, or just raise them this year and see if I add them to the program next year or even further on. Again, breeding back to ensure type. Now that I'm not so restricted in source abandon the F1 generation and work with birds that are considered 'pure' abandoning the far greater laying and longevity seen in the F1 generation. So here is where projects get interesting. In the development of all the breeds they crossed the birds with the traits they liked and then selectively bred forward. In the showing world those birds further than 4 generations forward being bred back to 'pure' are considered 'pure' again according to many I have talked to that do show regularly if the outcross was foundation or developed stock. However I'm not interested in showing, just good birds for my farm. In breed preservation often if the genetic stock is not available they go back to the foundation breeds to get out crosses to prevent inbreeding heavily. That's more the situation I was in, yet the restrictions to stock are not as tight to me now, although still really expensive to import with the paperwork. So my friend and long time breeder who created the F1 generation has no issues with me continuing and even showing in a few generations. She would know, been developing breeds for her lifetime and seen many others done. However I jokingly suggested she keep a blue (years ago) so she could work on a blue variety of the Australorp and it was simply not to be done! There are no blue Australorps, that is not in the standard. So the preservation of something known to be is OK, but the creation of a new bird is not OK with her. To each their own, if we all felt that way there would be no new breeds created and the only chickens in existence would be Jungle Fowl. I had some great discussions on this with her, and I totally respect her view, but she came to understand mine, that if she wanted to have blue Australorps ever all she needed to do was ask me for a blue back! So as projects go this one got stripped of too much stock IMO and really will need work to get it back on track, not sure I want to get that involved, but thought I'd get some input, and continue the discussion of project breeding in general.